Born into slavery in 1850, inventor and entrepreneur Sarah E. Goode went on to become the first African-American woman to be granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, for her invention of a folding cabinet bed in 1885.
After receiving her freedom at the end of the Civil War, Goode moved to Chicago and eventually became an entrepreneur. Along with her husband Archibald, a carpenter, she owned a furniture store. Many of her customers, who were mostly working-class, lived in small apartments and didn’t have much space for furniture, including beds.
As a solution to the problem, Goode invented a cabinet bed, which she described as a “folding bed,” similar to what nowadays would be called a Murphy bed. When the bed was not being used, it could also serve as a roll-top desk, complete with compartments for stationery and other writing supplies.